A lovingly rendered portrait of Stallman, Patron Saint of /tech/

FOSS stands for "Free Open Source Software", which is faggy nerd talk for software not made by the jews. The concept of FOSS was pioneered by well known turbo-autist Richard Stallman who had an epiphany to not be the kike that he probably is between eating gobs of lint and toejam from the bottom of his feet. You can sell FOSS too as long as you abide by the license's rules and share any modifications you make: free as in freedom, not necessarily free as in free beer. Common FOSS licenses are the GPL, MIT, and Apache. Creative Commons licenses are also rarely used for FOSS, though they are typically used for other media than software, such as documents, graphical arts, sound effects, music, and level data.

Differences in Freedumbs

Since English only has the word "free" to describe various different concepts, plenty of confusion happens in definitions of different kinds of "free software".

The four freedoms

  • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

While not explicitly stated in the definition, freedom 2 and 3 also includes commercial redistribution and publication.

Free vs Libre

Software can be "free" as in freeware that is available to download without charge, but that does not imply it is "libre"; that is, freedom to adapt, modify, and release as your own work— or to be more direct, free from typical copyright restrictions. This is also referred to as "free as in freedom", whereas free from charge is "free as in beer". Freeware typically refers to software that is free from charge, but remains proprietary (not libre) and closed source.

Open Source

Open Source generally refers to the model of open, meritocratic, decentralized software development. Of course, open source by definition simply means the source code is openly provided by the developer. Software can be open source while still being proprietary; a developer may release their source code for others to study or privately experiment with, but still retain intellectual property rights.

Open Core/Dual Licensing

Open Core refers to software that has a limited ("core") version as open source while having a premium version and/or add-ons as proprietary. There is controversy surrounding this model since it goes against the philosophy of free and open source software. One well known example of open core software is MySQL database where proprietary versions offer additional features.

Dual licensing refers to when a software is available in two or more licenses. For example, a program can be licensed under the GPL but is also available under the BSD license. Usually, companies will charge users for the more permissively licensed versions while the copyleft versions are free of charge.

Copyleft vs Permissive

There are two main types of FOSS licenses: copyleft and permissive. Copyleft license require you to release any modified version of the program under the same license. Supporters of copyleft licenses argue that using these licenses ensures that the program remains free and fosters the growth of free and open source software. Examples of copyleft licenses include the GPL, LGPL, MPL, and the CDDL. Permissive licenses on the other hand, allow you to license modified versions of the program under any license (including proprietary licenses). Supporters of permissive licenses point out the compatibility with other software licenses and the simplicity of the licenses. Examples of permissive licenses include the BSD, MIT, ISC, Apache, and WTFPL. Public domain is also considered a permissive license.

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